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IDEAS works in four of Ethiopia’s nine regions - Amhara, Oromia, Southern Nations, Nationalities and Peoples and Tigray - to provide a rich source of data for funders, governments and non-governmental organisations working in maternal and newborn health in Ethiopia.

Working with our measurement, learning and evaluation partners and using multidisciplinary research methods, our findings on what works, why and how aims to close the gap in implementation research on how to get life-saving interventions to families at scale.

In Ethiopia, the IDEAS project works across six research areas:

Tracking progress

Together with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, IDEAS produces a six-monthly maternal and newborn health dashboard, which highlights the coverage of a core set of 15 evidence-based interventions along the continuum of care, and tracks progress against Ethiopia’s target rates of coverage by 2020.

Supporting local decision-making

To enhance the capacity of health systems, quality data needs to be generated and used at the local level for timely course correction, improved health outcomes and the long-term sustainability of health initiatives. Following an Ethiopian feasibility study in 2012 and the experiences of a prototype phase in the state of West Bengal State in India, we are adopting an action-research approach to adapt, implement and evaluate the Data-Informed Platform for Health for the Ethiopian context.

Improving coverage measurement

We aim to improve measurement of priority indicators for maternal and newborn health by testing the coverage estimates derived from multiple sources.

Understanding quality improvement

Building on our previous work to understand behaviour change at household level in Ethiopia, IDEAS is using novel qualitative and quantitative approaches to understand health worker behaviours that drive quality improvement in the provision and utilisation of maternal and newborn health services.

Fostering innovation sustainability

IDEAS carries out qualitative studies to assess what happens in the long term to donor-funded maternal and newborn health innovations that are scaled-up. This work responds to the foundation’s commitment to seeing health investments scaled-up and sustained and will generate important new knowledge on how donors can foster the sustainability of health programmes in low-income settings.  Building on established strong partnerships the project is embedded in local institutions and actively seeks opportunities to build capacity for government institutions and their staff in sustainability.

Community-Based Newborn Care

Community-Based Newborn Care (CBNC) is an Ethiopian national initiative launched in 2013. It brings life-saving care to mothers and newborns at the community level within the Ethiopian health system. IDEAS is collaborating with the Ethiopian Federal Ministry of Health and JaRco Consulting to evaluate the CBNC programme through a series of quantitative surveys and qualitative assessments over five years.


Published content

Journal article
‘Scaling-up is a craft not a science’: Catalysing scale-up of health innovations in Ethiopia, India and Nigeria

A study of the scale-up of health innovations in Ethiopia, Nigeria and India, showing that multiple steps are required, including: planning; advocacy; using evidence; involving government; partnership, together with time, money and coordination, and the commitment of implementers, donors and government.

Journal article
How do health extension workers in Ethiopia allocate their time?

Despite dividing their time between many activities, a major component of health extension workers work includes reproductive, maternal, newborn, and child health activities, showing they have an important role in improving maternal and newborn health in Ethiopia.

Journal article
Measurement of breastfeeding initiation: Ethiopian mothers’ perception about survey questions assessing early initiation of breastfeeding

An assessment of Ethiopian mothers' perception about the question assessing early initiation. Standard probes or follow on questions are required to avoid subjective interpretation of the indicator.

Evidence to improve maternal and newborn health: The IDEAS Project

Leaflet giving an overview of the IDEAS project, it's aims and evaluation methods

Research brief
How to catalyse scale-up of maternal and newborn innovations in Ethiopia

Research brief on the key findings from a qualitative study on the barriers and enablers to the scale-up of maternal and newborn health innovations in Ethiopia

Maternal and newborn health care: Baseline findings from Ethiopia

Interactions between families and frontline workers (their frequency, quality, and equity), and coverage of interventions for mothers and newborns, in Ethiopia

Blog Post
Leadership in maternal & newborn health: Dr Tewabech Bishaw

“The Millennium Development Goals bring everyone together working towards a common goal.” Dr Tewabech Bishaw Dr Tewabech Bishaw is an...

Data Informed Platform for Health Feasibility Study Report, Amhara and Oromia Regions, Ethiopia

This report contains the findings of a study undertaken by IDEAS, looking at whether a Data Informed Platform for Health could be implemented in Ethiopia.

Blog Post
Using data to improve healthcare in Ethiopia

Though originally from Ethiopia, I have spent most of my adult life abroad. Acronyms and terms such as HEWs, CHPs, Health Post and Health Centre...